A Quick Guide to Water Softening Salt

A Quick Guide to Water Softening Salt

A water softener needs to be periodically filled with salt in order to work correctly. This helps to remove dissolved hard water minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. Some people don’t really understand the process, and there are a lot of misconceptions about water softeners in general. In this brief guide, we will look at how a water softener works and address some of these unfounded concerns.

What Causes Hard Water?

During its journey to our homes, water may pass through rock formations and pick up mineral deposits along the way. Water is a highly effective solvent and given enough time it can dissolve a wide variety of materials. These mineral deposits are often dissolved entirely, and this often makes them undetectable without laboratory testing. There are many harmful dissolved minerals that can be in your water supply, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, aluminum, cadmium, barium, radium, and metallic particulates. The two main water hardening minerals are calcium and magnesium and removing the other minerals is an added bonus.

Why is Hard Water a Problem?

Over time, hard water can cause a buildup of scale in water using appliances that make them less effective, increases the energy needs and results in premature equipment failure. Hard water can also cause stains on washing and dishes and make soaps and detergents less effective. Plumbing fixtures are also at risk, clogged nozzles may become an issue in your shower heads, and even your Jacuzzi could be affected. Many hard water users have dry skin and hair related issues because of the mineral deposits left on their skin and scalps after washing.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

The water softener is installed between your water supply and your faucets to make hard water softer and easier to use. During the water softening process, the ions in the salt are exchanged for the ions in the water hardening minerals. So, the calcium and magnesium ions are removed and a replaced with sodium (salt) ions. This process is facilitated by small resin beads that are charged with negative sodium ions. The negative charge attracts the positively charged ions in the hard water causing minerals. These minerals are then trapped in the resin beads, and the water continues on its journey with a sodium ion instead. Periodically, the water softener resin beads need to be flushed and cleaned to remove the buildup of water hardening ions, or it will become less effective.

Which Salt Should be Used?

There are three common types of water softener salt available; they are evaporated, rock and solar salt.

  • Evaporated salt comes from underground dissolved salt deposits.
  • Rock salt comes from natural salt deposits.
  • Solar salt comes from evaporated seawater.

Every water softener is designed to work with a specific type of water softening salt. This will be clearly stated in the owner’s manual, and you should stick with this recommendation. Some water softening salt is cheaper than other types, but using the wrong type of salt could cause performance issues. As an example: rock salt is usually the cheapest option, but it can clog up resin beds, and you will need to maintain and clean the water softener more often. If you have any further questions about choosing and installing a water softener, we  will be happy to offer some expert advice.

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